For Sean

In talking about mass scaling geospatial web services, Sean Gillies expressed that he wasn’t sure that Mapserver (for example) was up to the task, or alternatively, really provided anything that couldn’t be provided with ArcServer, for example (he’s not a fanboi, but he does like playing devil’s advocate).

For mass scaling a system on Mapserver, I’d have Mapserver generating maps out to a tile cache, so really, the number of Mapservers I would need would be limited to the amount of fresh tiles I was generating at any given time. Sean correctly pointed out that in that architecture, ArcServer wouldn’t be nearly as punitive, from a licensing point-of-view, as I was painting it, since it too could be deployed in more limited numbers while the tile cache handled most of the load.

I just thought of an interesting use case which is totally incompatible with a proprietary per-CPU licensing scheme: suppose I want to generate a complete tile cache for the USA. Do a TIGER street map of all of the USA, for example? No problem, I fire up 1000 EC2 instances and let ‘em rip! With Mapserver, that’s not a problem. With ArcServer, or any other per-CPU licensed product, it’s just not on.

The whole area of virtual rentable infrastructure is a place where old fashioned proprietary licensing has a problem.